The Los Angeles Lakers historically have done a tremendous job of honoring players from the franchise’s past, and Kobe Bryant is next in line for the spotlight. The Lakers are retiring Bryant’s Nos. 8 and 24 jerseys at Staples Center on Dec. 18 when they host the Golden State Warriors.
The ceremony is the first of its kind since the Lakers put No. 34 in the rafters in April 2013, as a sign of appreciation for the big man and the three championships he helped bring to the city. In March of this year, the Lakers unveiled a statue of O’Neal, which is affixed to the side of Staples Center.
Safe to assume Bryant too will have a bronze version of himself outside the arena, which in Derek Fisher’s estimation should be two statues to fall in line with the theme of the jersey retirement.
While Bryant will become the first player in Lakers franchise history to have two numbers retired, he told Chris McGee of Spectrum SportsNet that although he did not have a say, No. 24 would be his choice if forced to decide:
“No, I didn’t want [a vote on which number to retire]. It’s an honor that comes from the organization. It doesn’t come from me. … I guess I would just go with the number in which I retired, I guess that would be my logic.”
Prior to the Lakers announcing their plans, which of Bryant’s jersey numbers should hang in the rafters was a longstanding debate. In 2013, he said No. 24 was the preferred choice.
Bryant played 10 seasons in each number, winning three championships while donning No. 8 and two titles as No. 24. He previously described his first jersey number as being symbolic of trying to establish himself, while No. 24 marked a more mature time in his life.
The five-time champion averaged 23.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists from 1996-2006, or his 10 seasons as No. 8. In the ensuing 10 years with No. 24 on the back of his jersey, Bryant averaged 26.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists.
His lone MVP and two Finals MVP Awards came as No. 24.
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